New Delhi, May 8 (ILNS): A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to fill up the vacancy of the Chairman of NCLAT and President of NCLT without any delay.
The Plea also seeks, inter-alia, the following direction to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs:
• Appointment to the selected candidate, in pursuance of the selection procedure initiated by Respondent No 1 in 2019.
• To expedite the process of recruitment and to fill up the existing vacancies and vacancies of members of NCLAT and NCLT likely to arise in May and June 2021.
• Direction to extend the term of the Members of the National company Law Appellate Tribunal and National Company Law Tribunal’ for five years, who shall be completing their tenure by May and June, 2021.
The petition highlighted that the existing strength of NCLAT consists of its officiating chairperson and a total number of members, which is below the sanctioned limit of 11 members and the NCLT consists of its acting president and a total number of 38 members, which is below the sanctioned limit of 63 members.
It read that one of the Technical Members of NCLAT and six members of NCLT shall be completing their tenure of five years in May and June 2021, but they shall have enough period of service left for them to serve, till they attain their age of 65 years or 67 years, as the case may be, in terms of the Companies Act.
The plea, however, pointed out that the on-going COVID-19 pandemic has caused delay in the entire selection process of the members for the NCLAT and NCLT. The process for recruitment of members of the NCLAT and NCLT, which was initiated during 2019, has been held up, as no appointment of new members has been made, till date.
Several selected candidates for the post of members of NCLT have not received their appointment letters by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Therefore, the plea urged that due to delay in appointment, there is a dire need of strength of members in the NCLAT and NCLT.
On January 29, 2021, the National Company Law Tribunal and Appellate Tribunal Bar Association made a representation to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to consider the reappointment of the Members for another term in NCLAT and NCLT, so that the Tribunals can function smoothly, without depriving the litigants of their rights.
To this, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs replied via its letter of April 9 that a member willing to be considered for re-appointment for another term of five years, subject to the age limit provided in the companies Act, has to apply in response to the advertisement to be issued for selection and appointment of the members at appropriate time.
The plea raised concern that no further process of recruitment has been initiated to fill up the large number of existing vacancies and the more vacancies are likely to arise in months between May and July, 2021.
“The delay in appointment has adversely affected the functioning of the Tribunals and it has increased the backlog of cases, and also deprived the litigants of their right to speedy trial,” the plea read. ILNS\AV\SJ\RJ